This is going to be a long post but I promise it’ll be worth your while. Grab a cup of joe, sit back, relax and read on matey!
h1. The Background
Historically at Atlassian, there are 3 big staff events at Atlassian during the year – Christmas, Melbourne Cup (or Superbowl if you’re on the other side of the Pacific) and the End of Financial Year bash.
Last year for the EFY the Sydney office went on “Mission: Atlassian” – our spy themed adventure race around Sydney. It was a massive success, beyond what anyone had expected. (If you haven’t, watch the “introductory video”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kncEDi_hVLM and see “the photos”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/sets/72157594227310533/) Everyone had a complete blast and kept asking for more… so this year’s secret party planning committee had it’s work cut out.
(Oh – the fact we had less planners, twice the staff, a new office and a “small acquisition”:http://www.atlassian.com/cenqua to complete just added to the challenge)
We’ve done a _lot_ of different events. Over the years we’ve drunk & eaten far too much, raced go karts, shot paintballs, sailed yachts, rafted the white water and all manner of other things… so what next?
h2. Search For A Theme
Now what does one do for a theme?
One of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes (along with “Real Artists Ship”:http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&story=Real_Artists_Ship.txt) is “It’s better to be a pirate than join the Navy” (read “Pirate Flag”:http://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?story=Pirate_Flag.txt).
Come on… who didn’t always want to be a pirate?
And thus, Cutlassian was born.
h1. Cutlassian Begins…
So what exactly happened? Let me give a brief overview:
*Breakfast:* To start the day in Aussie traditional style, we had a BBQ breakfast on the deck of our new office – bacon and egg rolls for all.
*Introduction:* Once everyone was present and well fed, the volume was silently raised and the introduction video started on a giant screen in our staff area.
(Do watch it – it’s our best video ever – thanks to Rob for whipping it together. Simply brilliant!)
Now doesn’t that music just make you want to strap on a cutlas and run around like a mad man? Argg!!
*Fight!* Now, all good action movies have an introductory action sequence – so we needed a fight. Luckily, a few professional fighting pirates happened to appear on the deck at that very minute – staging a raging sword fight back and forth.
*Captains:* Once the fighting died down, captains (like Nick “Rum Lord Snugglebunny” Menere) were chosen and sent to find their Captain’s Instructions in treasure chests hidden around the office.
*Crew:* The sword fighters then read out the crews for the day – dividing staff into groups of 8, who then scattered madly around the offices to find their captain. By this time the stunned surprise had worn off and the pirate theme had truly kicked in with many a loud “Yarr!” heard from charging staff.
About now I _knew_ it was going to be a fantastic day.
Each crew were decked out like true pirates with bandanas, cutlasses, eye patches, jolly rogers and the traditional Atlassian event t-shirt.
(FYI Piratlas is a worthy, kick-ass addition to the Atlas family – if not the best ever – isn’t he cute? Huge kudos to our in house designer Jason for nailing it!)
h2. Pirate Training
A last minute addition to last year’s Mission was the photo clues, which proved to be the hugest success. Simply – to get points a team had to get a photo of an object or the team performing a task. Sounds easy? Ahh, but that’s because you don’t have evil people planning the clues.
This year a photo treasure hunt was destined but we wanted to expand and push the boundaries a further.
Last year a few clues were thrown in with the thought… “I wonder if anyone will actually _do_ that?” – but almost every single clue was completed by every team. Clearly we did not set the bar high enough – or we just employ a _lot_ of true pirates.
Besides harder clues, this year we added video clues which required small digital camera videos of the teams performing various silly challenges.
I’ll cover some highlights (including photos and videos) later in the post, but for anyone interested here’s this year’s list of clues.
The crews then left the office (amid much loud Yarrr’ing!) at pace to scatter across the city and start snapping clues.
h2. Treasure Hunt On The High Seas
After a morning of pirates scaring strangers with cameras, all crews managed to get themselves to the Maritime Museum docks (come on – could you pick a more perfect location?).
From here, each crew boarded their ships and embarked on a sailing treasure hunt around Sydney harbour.
Uncharacteristically for Sydney, it rained for most of the sailing hunt and the wind was breathless – but that didn’t seem to dent any pirate spirits.
There were two types of clues – clues about Atlassian (download ’em
if you’re interested – I’ll be hugely impressed if non-staff members can answer them!) and location clues.
The location clues directed crews to sail to various locations around the harbour in search of treasure, which was eventually found by the Rum Smugglers buried in a far flung beach in Chowder Bay.
Teams then sailed for home against the setting sun, returning to the office for a photo and video slideshow, scoring of the clues and of course – for the truly hardy – the consumption of much beer and rum at the pub, whilst retelling all the day’s seafaring stories.
h1. Cutlassian Highlights
Over 1300 photos were taken on the day, so pulling out the best ones is a challenge in itself. That said, there are some definite stand outs.
Here are my favourites, in no particular order.
h3. What Be The Time?
The best highlight of the day would have to be the “Ask a stranger for the time, as a pirate” video clue for sheer hilarity.
Matt Quail (of “Fisheye”:http://www.atlassian.com/software/fisheye fame) accosted two council workers and then reacted with perfect comic timing:
More amusingly, Brendan misinterpreted the clue and managed to ask a poor lass for a _good_ time, instead of _the_ time:
h3. The Police
The clue was to get a photo posing with a member of the NSW Police force – oh and there were bonus points if you could convince them to dress as a pirate. Would anyone get this done? Turns out – it’s easier than you think.
We had a few “standard”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219507395/in/set-72157601623013038/ “shots”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219514469/in/set-72157601623013038/ of the police with pirates and my cheeky “road run”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219517417/in/set-72157601623013038/ to pose with a few motorcycle cops but quite a few teams actually got the cops to put on bandanas or “eye patches”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220348378/in/set-72157601623013038/ like these guys:
h3. Sharing Food
How about convincing a stranger to take a photo sharing the _same piece of food_ as you? Well, easier than you think:
Extra bonus points to Nick’s team for combining clues to take a photo sharing a piece of food _with a police man_:
h3. Job Application
Taking a photo of yourself “applying”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219480365/in/set-72157601623013038/ for a job at any “fast food restaurant”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219463133/in/set-72157601623013038/ seemed amusing – until the day when we discovered that most of them now take applicants online. How’s that for irony?
Great amusement was found in McDonald’s form though. Position applied for? Crew! Yarr!
Side note: how many people answer “Subway” to the question ‘Restaurant name you want to work at?’, and do they get jobs at Macca’s? One can only wonder.
Huge numbers of strangers were co-opted into the pirate fun on the day – people who “look like pirates”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219450647/in/set-72157601623013038/, people with “great beards”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219456753/in/set-72157601623013038/, people “surrending the booty”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220372116/in/set-72157601623013038/, people “just doing their job”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219456147/in/set-72157601623013038/ and people with “great pirate impressions”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220347222/in/set-72157601623013038/ – all enjoyed the camera lens.
Two special categories of strangers deserve a mention though.
The pirate “hugging a man in a suit” caused much amusement and was “well”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219473499/in/set-72157601623013038/ “done” but none better than Mandy who makes the poor bloke look so uncomfortable:
Men in suits is one thing though. Babies is another. The “youngest pirate” category had “many”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220359310/in/set-72157601623013038/, “many”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220361906/in/set-72157601623013038/ “fantastic”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220356276/in/set-72157601623013038/ “entries”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219518023/in/set-72157601623013038/ but this one is my favourite – look at that mean pirate glare:
h3. Man Overboard
Plenty of “men”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1219489143/in/set-72157601623013038/ “went”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220340234/in/set-72157601623013038/ “overboard”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcannonbrookes/1220390048/in/set-72157601623013038/ but only Peter _actually_ hit the water, kudos for that effort:
h2. The End
Phew – well that was a mammoth post, for those still reading – thanks! I hope you can “join us next year”:http://www.atlassian.com/about/jobs.jsp.
Thanks to all the Atlassian pirates for being good sports and participating!
If you’re still a glutton for piracy, see “all the photos”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/cutlassian/interesting/ and “all the videos”:http://youtube.com/results?search_query=cutlassian&search=tag from the day.
Until next year… yarrr!
*Update* – If you want to watch the _full_ video of the day (8 mins) including all the hijinks from the mad rush at the start right through to finding treasure on a beach, it’s “on YouTube”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4kpROUdNN8